Auckland artist Kirstin’s vibrant floral works are brightening up the Britomart precinct this spring.
This year's been a different one for everyone – as an independent artist, how has it been for you?
One of the main changes for me is that pre-Covid I was doing some freelance work to supplement my income. That dried up during the first lockdown but it has been a bit of a blessing in disguise, as I have been able to spend more time in the studio. Saying that, my working time has been affected by the lock-downs with kindergartens being closed and a young child to keep busy! My solo exhibition in June at Melanie Roger Gallery went on uninterrupted and as scheduled, with lots of visitors and even had an opening. There have been a lot of disruptions to exhibitions since the first lockdown, so I was very lucky.
Tell us about the artworks that visitors to Britomart will see on our precinct flags this spring.
The more than 20 Britomart flags consist of close-up details of eight floral still-life oil paintings I have made and exhibited over the last few years. When I was asked to collaborate on this project I knew immediately I would use detail shots of my paintings on the flags rather than anything pictorial. I love the idea of the flags –– which have become a study in texture and colour –– blowing in the wind. Visitors to Britomart will be looking at a closeup of a painting from a distance which I also love! On the information stickers under the flags they have been described as: “layers of abstract-looking brushstrokes evoke the feeling of piles of petals in spring”, which I think sums them up well.
Can you give us some insight into how you make your paintings?
I make small impasto paintings very quickly and loosely. I don’t really use it much but alla prima is a term that suggests a direct painting approach where paint is applied wet on wet without letting earlier layers dry and does sum up the way I work. I have all my colours mixed and ready to go and paint directly onto a prepared board. I make almost all my paintings in one sitting –– I don’t often return to them. I like them to look and feel effortless. I enjoy painting this way as I like the directness and unfussy nature of it. I make my best paintings when I paint quickly –– the quicker the better, and this way of painting suits this.
Your flowers are bringing a wonderful spring feel to the precinct – what are your favourite flowers, and why?
The timing of this project is perfect! That is a hard question but I will probably say hydrangeas as they remind me of my grandmother –– she grows beautiful white ones and some dark maroon ones. We also have a great big old hydrangea plant outside a large window in our recently built house which was in full bloom when we moved in and which I love. My recent paintings include a lot of daisies. I like the way they are so ubiquitous, easily recognisable with just a few marks or brushstrokes and are reminiscent of childhood to me –– I used to spend hours drawing daisies as a child.
What projects are you working on next?
At this stage, I am working away in the studio, scaling up new work for a group presentation in early 2021 with Melanie Roger Gallery.